The Great Picky Eater Food Battle is not for the faint of heart.
Lately, my two year old refuses to eat pretty much everything. Unless it is peanut butter, cheese, yogurt or her favorite fruits. She also likes ham, so regardless of what kind of meat I’m serving, I exclaim, “Eat! You like this; it’s ham!”. Sometimes, it even works! 😉
My picky eater refuses foods that aren’t aesthetically pleasing….
She turns up her nose at unfamiliar foods (unless they’re highly processed and full of artificial flavors)….
My toddler has even looked at her dinner plate and remarked, “Bleh!”. How rude! …
No matter how much I bribe her, or threaten time-outs, she Will. Not. Eat. She clenches her lips together, covers her mouth with her hand, and turns as far away from me as possible. And I know I have no course of action that doesn’t include handcuffs, straps, and pliers.
So what to do? I am a strict mom, but even I don’t believe in prying my daughter’s mouth open to shove food in it. 😉
Everyone says, “They’ll eat when they’re hungry!”. But what parent can stand there and watch their child starve nutritionally? While their child simultaneously grows unbearably crabby because, like their mama, they get HANGRY when they don’t eat.
Today, I am going to share what is helping us through this challenging time!
My mealtime tips for dealing with a picky eater –
Serve several foods your child WILL EAT and one new food.
Serve small portions to avoid waste, frustration, or child getting overwhelmed at the sight of new food.
Encourage your child to try at least one bite.
Promise they don’t have to finish new food, or even swallow it. (My kids are big fans of spitting yucky foods in the trash after holding it their mouth for eons.)
If child still refuses to try even one bite, threaten to take away a privilege. For us, that’s tv time, which we often allow after dinner and before bed.
Follow through. No bite, no privilege.
Don’t get mad. Stay calm. Act like it’s no biggie if your kid is iron deficient because she refuses to eat her spinach.
Put cheese on it! My kids favorite food group – everything looks and tastes better with cheese!
Serve new foods at lunch, and familiar favorites at dinner. Your kids will have a full belly for bedtime and sleep soundly.
If kids don’t eat much of their lunch, don’t give them a snack. Or give them a small, but healthy snack to tide them over. NO TREATS! Go ahead, break out your secret stash of chocolate and eat it right in front of them. You deserve it for preparing food they didn’t want and washing a plate they wouldn’t eat off.
Our greatest success recently has been simply getting the food into my 2.5 year old daughter’s mouth. Whether or not she likes it, or will even swallow the food, at least she is opening her mouth! We accomplished this mainly by threatening a consequence (revoking tv privileges after dinner) and promising she can spit the offensive food in the trash if she so desires.
I trust that in time, her delicate palate will broaden itself from the repeated exposure to new flavors and textures. And if it doesn’t well…there’s always those sneaky veg recipes on Pinterest.
Parenting Fails – we’ve all been there, done that!
My general theory is that whether you make huge mistakes or simple parenting fails, your kid can still turn out either good or bad. Many successful people have emerged from a terrible home life. And sometimes kids from good, strong families lose their way. The Bible promises that if you train up a child in the way he should go, in the end he will not depart from it. So just do your best, and don’t sweat the small stuff.
With that being said, however….parenting fails can still make us feel like idiots! I’ll never forget the time I took my newborn first child to the pool in her adorable two piece baby bikini and shades. I laid her on a lounge chair on top of a beach towel and started snapping away with my camera. She was three months old and cute as a bug. I was beside myself with motherly pride and adoration, when all of a sudden she rolled off the lounge and onto the concrete! Luckily, the chair was very low to the ground and she was not injured, but I was so ashamed of myself for being stupid enough to let something like that happen. I didn’t tell anyone (besides hubby) for almost two years because I was so embarrassed!
I also forgot the diaper bag the first time we ever took our newborn daughter to church, when she was a week old. Now that I’m a “seasoned” parent of four years, I realize that these things happen to everyone. We all experience parenting fails, and that doesn’t make us bad at what we do! In fact, it’s the guilt we feel afterwards that makes us good parents!
If you’re having a rough day, check out these stories and realize you’re not alone when you feel helpless, inadequate, or just plain stupid. We’re all in this together! 🙂
Jen from Heaven Not Harvard: One time in the Wal-mart parking lot, I was so busy making sure my daughter’s car seat was in correctly and tightly secured that she started to roll away in the shopping cart into the traffic flow! Luckily, there were no cars and I grabbed her in seconds. My husband was just coming out from buying something he’d forgotten when he saw my eyeballs about jump out of my skull and my legs road runner spiral into action.
Aditi from Silver Linings – My parents, hubby dearest, and two month old baby came home after an evening spent roaming around the shopping mall. We had just started getting ready for bed when the crying began. Desperate, never ending and extremely loud to four adults who were new to being around an infant. We tried everything, feeding, bathing, more clothes, less clothes, gripe water, steam etc. Panic had just started to seep in, when for some reason my brilliant husband got our industrial fan, switched it to low and put it bang in front of the little one lying in the bouncer. And lo and behold, the crying stopped. My hubby quipped, “He just needed to feel like the star of a Bollywood movie with the wind blowing his hair in the scene where he’s introduced.”
Bärbel from Simple Summit – My daughter was 5 days old when we went to the pediatrician’s office for her first check-up. When the nurse called her name, my husband and I just kept sitting in the waiting room. She called it again – this time, the full name and we both got up, embarrassed. “We are new at this, can you tell?”, was our excuse. 🙂
We have also left the diaper bag at home before, or ended up staying out longer than anticipated so I ran out of diapers. I shook out the poopie in her diapers so I could reuse them again. So embarrassing!
Crystal from Love More Live Blessed – I had my pack-n-play up way before I had my son. I would throw diapers in there until I could put them away. I know, I know, so lazy. Anyway, one day I threw a package of diapers across the room into the pack-n-play. A second later, I realized my newborn was in there too! Ahh!! He was fine, the diapers didn’t hit him – but I sure felt guilty.
Nikki from Healing Mama Remedies – I was nursing my son while looking on my phone, then I dropped my phone on his head! I felt horrible!
Ashli from The Million Dollar Mama – I thought squeaking the dog’s toy in front of my 8 week old might make him laugh – it terrified the crap out of him!
Hannah from Sunshine And Spoons – On my oldest daughter’s first Sunday in church, I took her downstairs to feed her a bottle and forgot to burp her. When we came back upstairs and sat down in our pew, she threw up her entire bottle all over my dress.
With my 3rd child, I forgot to bring any diapers to church and she uncharacteristically had TWO really messy diapers. The first time it happened, I begged a too-small diaper from my sister in law. The second time, I was too embarrassed to ask again. Church was almost over so when it finished, I put a rag in her carseat so she wouldn’t leak all over it and took my smelly, oozing child home to change! I left diapers in the church nursery after that.
When my 4th and youngest baby was just 3 months old, I took him to a Sunday School picnic. I thought I did a good job keeping him out of the sun. However, I let someone else hold him for a while and she forgot to do the same. He had THE worst sunburn on his forehead and nose that I’ve ever seen. Note to self: Always bring a hat for the baby!
As always, thanks for reading! And remember, if you’re a parent, or parent-to-be, take it easy on yourself. We all make mistakes from time to time, but it will all be okay in the end!
You eat cookies in the closet because you don’t want to share.
Sometimes the most unattainable dream is simply having 5 minutes of pure, blessed silence.
And if you ever get those 5 minutes of silence, you’ll rue them when you see what havoc the kids have wreaked in your absence .
You just might discover that you know every word to the most popular Disney songs….and you love belting them out!
The days of listening to grownup music are fading fast…because you either don’t want to explain the adult lyrics, or the demands for Disney songs (see above) are too overpowering.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Literally. Read your talkative four year old a book and you’ll find you can barely get past the first illustration…”What’s that? What’s he doing? Why is she wearing that? Where are they going? Is that a boy or a girl? Why are they carrying a backpack?”….
Dinner is quite possibly the most stressful time of your day – from making it, to eating it, and to cleaning up the mess afterwards.
You forget what your living room floor looks like.
You wear the same clothes until they get snot or poop on them to cut down on laundry.
Shopping becomes an Olympic Sport, involving intensive training (be quiet, don’t touch, stay with me, etc.), hard work, sweat, tears, and moving as rapidly as you can to get down the aisle and out of the darn store.
Before kids, you were young and carefree. Now you’re old and curmudgeonly, and your favorite word is, “No.”
Being a mother also means….
You don’t sleep in any more, even on weekends, but oh those early morning snuggles!
So many kisses and hugs. So. Many.
As frustrating as the plethora of toys in your house are….you can’t resist buying new ones you’re certain your kids will love and cherish forever (or at least a day or two).
Any time you need an excuse to stay home, you’ve got it, baby! Same goes for anytime you need an excuse to get OUT.
You’ll take personally the compliments directed at your little one…What an adorable little girl? Why thank you, I’m her personal stylist!
You’ll gain the utmost joy and pride in another person’s accomplishments…rolling over, taking steps, and peeing in the potty never seemed so miraculous and brilliant until now.
You’ll become a pro at terrorizing young children that are mean to your kids. Don’t worry about it; they have it coming to them.
Both rational and irrational fears will abound. No matter how rational you were before you had kids.
You may begin to wonder if you have an undiagnosed anxiety disorder. Or need anger management classes.
Your constant companions are surefire conversation starters. Great for making new friends!
For the next few years, you will live with the cutest little comedians you ever did see. Daily shows, free admission, just sweat and tears to get in!
You will hear the words, “I ‘lub’ you so much” and know that it is the truest, sweetest, purest form of love ever bestowed upon any human.
On vacation recently, hubby and I learned the most amazing secret. How to dine peacefully with our kids! At a restaurant. In public!
I don’t claim that we’re now experts on this subject, but today I’m going to share some sanity saving ideas so hopefully you can dine peacefully, too!
Idea #1. Let the kids have screen time while you dine.
It may sound obvious to you, because what kid doesn’t have a tablet nowadays??? But I am of the belief that screen time should be limited. Kids are way too addicted to screens, and so are adults for that matter. Don’t even get me started on oblivious teenagers and their phones, or kids who can’t hold a conversation unless it is via text, Snapchat or Twitter.
However! There are some great, educational apps for kids out there! I feel that playing an educational app, like KidloLand, is better than having tv-watching couch potatoes. Plus, at the bottom of this post, you can enter to win a 3 months subscription to this KidloLand app! FIVE people will be chosen! So why not dine peacefully at a nice restaurant that DOESN’T have a built in play place?
Screen time is your last resort, though, so keep reading for more ideas.
Idea #2. Feed your kids before you go.
If your kids don’t get excited about dining out (mine don’t, unless it’s ice cream), feed them at home, and then break out toys, coloring pages, etc. when you’re ready to dine (peacefully!) at the restaurant. Don’t get into a food fight at a restaurant if that’s what it will come to. Just avoid the whole situation.
Idea #3. If your kids are younger than school age, bring a light meal or snacks to the restaurant.
You may feel odd doing this, and there’s a chance you might get a dirty look. But we brought a half pbj sandwich for each of our girls into a restaurant or two on vacation and no one said a thing.
But I would more readily suggest bringing something like a food pouch, grapes, a banana…anything that is somewhat nourishing (or takes them a long time to eat- ha!). For me, the biggest reason I do this, is because you can’t always order kid-friendly, healthy food at a restaurant.
Note: When we brought the pbj’s into a restaurant, we were going for Thai food after playing at a state park all morning. My girls were hungry and couldn’t wait, so I made them a sandwich in the car. I don’t know how the Thai food would have gone over with them, or if the restaurant had a good kid’s menu.
Idea #4. Let your kids order a fun appetizer instead of a meal.
They’ll be excited and you might save money! Happy kids are well-behaved kids. 🙂
While on vacation, we sometimes ordered our kids a side like cheese fries, and they ate a fruit/veg pouch with it. We saved money, and still gave the restaurant some business, but the kids didn’t have to sit and eat a large meal. They nibbled a bit, and when they got squirmy, we pulled out the phones so they could play with their KidoLand app.
Idea #5. Don’t forget bibs and wet wipes (wipes can be used for cleaning the table, sticky hands, letting your kids ‘wash’ their chair…anything!)!
I still make my four year old wear a bib from time to time if she is wearing a nice outfit. You don’t want to ruin nice clothes AND a nice dinner by a dreadful spill and stain when you don’t have any fresh, clean clothes nearby. (I never seem to have a change of clothes for my kids. But if I do, they’re all packed in the suitcase, buried under everything else! Or they’ve been in the diaper bag so long they’re too small now. Yes, that has happened.)
Even food pouches can be messy when you have toddlers, so bring a bib and wet wipes to clean their sticky hands. You might save at least one trip to the bathroom!
Which brings me to…
Idea #6. Take your kids potty before your food arrives.
Or at least make them take a walk to the bathroom with you and wash their hands or something. The more time they have to move, the better. And hopefully, once you get there, they’ll decide they do have to go.
Idea #7. Walk around the restaurant, look out the window, have a chat.
Usually waiters stick people with kids in a room by themselves, or as far away from other patrons as possible; have you noticed? If this is the case, or it is a fairly deserted restaurant, walk up and down the aisles with your kids. Order your meal, then get up and take a little walk to eliminate as much sitting time as possible.
Just make sure you keep an eye out for waiters with trays and grumpy patrons. Some people love to chat with kids! And some would rather choke on their food. Be considerate- steer away from those who’ve already been served. But, if you come across an idle couple sitting quietly who seem to truly enjoy your four year old’s mesmerizing stories, take full advantage!
Idea #8. Let your kids butter crackers or bread.
This was my mom’s idea, when I asked for any tips I may have forgotten. Grandmas know all the tricks!!
If there are crackers on the table, or the waiter brings a bread basket, let your kids butter their own carbs, lol! Toddlers love activities they can do independently! Anything you can do to keep their little hands (and minds) busy!
Idea #9. Try everything you can think of before you bring out the electronics…
I let my girls put on my lip gloss, lotion, etc, whatever they can find in my purse. (I get my safe, non toxic products here.) I encourage them to color the paper placemat. I pull out any little toy I might have in the diaper bag (my mom suggests little Fisher Price people, army men, etc). If you try every other option first, maybe you will have enough screen time leftover to run an errand after lunch! Or be able to put on a movie for some peace and quiet at home! 🙂 And your kids won’t automatically come to expect apps at every restaurant.
Those are all my ideas- but I wish I had more, lol! There are times when you need an arsenal of ideas just to survive one meal. But I want to encourage you if you feel trapped at home like I did. Even if you feel you’ll never be able to dine peacefully in public, there’s hope! And you don’t have to wait until the kids move out of the house!
Now let me tell you a little more about the award-winning Kidloland app you can enter to win.
KidloLand App Review:
With a paid subscription, nothing is locked…You won’t hear your kids cry about not being able to download a new activity/song/puzzle (because you would have to pay extra for it). Or make them sit through advertisements that convince them to say, “I want that!!”.
This app is seriously fun- it even entertains me! Tap on a juggler at the circus, and he drops all the balls he’s juggling. Or tap on the hippo and he trips into a mud puddle! This is totally my four year old’s sense of humor- and mine! Your kids can do these things with every educational song on the app- extra assurance they won’t be bored!
But it isn’t all slapstick…with more than 260 nursery rhymes and educational songs, they’re learning every step of the way. There’s over 100 games and activities, including puzzles (my two year old loves those!), connect the dots, sorting by color and more! You can also chose activities by themes your kids enjoy- among them are : space, insects, marine animal, farm, vehicles, princess, and lots more!
The app can help teach your child numbers from 1-100, abc’s, phonics, sorting, matching, and months of the year!
There’s also some activities that are just plain fun…like feeding the elephant bunches of bananas. If you’re supervising, you could help your child count the bunches of bananas as the elephant chomps. 🙂
As you play songs on the app, the lyrics are highlighted, turning from black to white. This is a great way to teach early reading skills! But your kids won’t realize they’re learning as they listen to those nursery rhymes.
Enter to win the KidloLand app today! And share this post with your friends so that you can dine peacefully with them too, when you both win a fun, ad-free app for your kids!
The app is available on Apple or Android phones, and is normally $4.99 per month, so the prize value is nearly $15. Five Winners will be chosen!
If you don’t win, you can download the app for yourself and give it a try. (The app is free to download, but you’ll have very limited access to games, songs and activities.) Remember, $5 per month for an app is a lot cheaper than a babysitter! 😉